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South Dakota Obesity Rate on the Rise

Three out of ten South Dakotas are obese, according to 2015 federal data. The state’s rate of 30.4 percent has increased by 2.3 percent since 2011, and is slightly higher than the national rate of 29.8 percent. Several factors including race, gender, and income affect South Dakotans' risk, although the lines are not clearly drawn in all cases. 

The Rushmore State ranked 30th among the 50 states for obesity. Montana had the third lowest rate of obesity in the nation, and also the lowest rate of obesity in the region at 23.4 percent. Iowa had the highest rate of obesity in the region at 32.1 percent. 

State Percentage Ranking
Montana 23.4 3
Minnesota 26.1 12
Wyoming 29.0 21
South Dakota 30.4 30
North Dakota 31.0 34
Nebraska 31.4 37
Iowa 32.1 39

Obesity Rates Highest on Reservations

Data compiled from U.S. Census information shows that South Dakota's Indian reservations have the state's highest rates of obesity. In 2015, several of South Dakota’s reservation counties—Oglala Lakota, Dewey, Ziebach, Corson, and Buffalo Counties—had obesity rates around 40 percent. Statewide, American Indians were the racial group with the highest obesity rates at 37.0 percent.

Different South Dakota Regions Show Differing Trends

Among South Dakota’s metro areas, Sioux City had the highest rate of obesity in 2013—the most recent year for which data is available—at 33.7 percent. The Rapid City and Sioux Falls metro areas had lower rates of obesity, at 28.2 and 27.4 percent respectively. The Black Hills region has same rate of obesity as the state as a whole.

Spearfish had the lowest rate of obesity among South Dakota’s metropolitan and micropolitan areas at 25.7 percent. Mitchell had the highest rate of obesity for South Dakota’s micropolitan areas at 33.6 percent, while Aberdeen, Watertown and Vermillion all hovered around 31 percent.

Education and Incomes

Fewer correlations can be drawn between income and education levels and the risk of obesity. In 2015, individuals making less than $15,000 had the highest rates of obesity at 35.7 percent, while individuals making over $50,000 had the lowest rate at 30.1 percent. However, 32.3 percent of individuals making between $15,000-24,999 were obese, while 34.8 percent of individuals making $25,000-$34,999 were classified as obese. 

Less of a correlation can be seen in levels of education. In 2015, individuals who had an associate’s degree or some college had the highest rates of obesity, at 32.8 percent. This rate has increased 5.6 percent from 2011. Rates of obesity have also increased among individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2015, 28.6 percent of college graduates were obese, compared to a recent low in 2012 of 23.1 percent. The percentage of individuals who did not graduate high school and are obese has hovered between 30 and 31 percent since 2011.

According to 2015 data, more South Dakota men than women were obese, although the rate for both has risen slightly from 2014. Statewide, 32.2 percent of men were obese in 2015 compared to 28.5 percent of women. In 2015, 31.5 percent of men were obese, compared to 28.1 percent of women. 

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